Grayson mourns their fallen hero,
By Beth Volpert-Johansen
He flew helicopter rescue missions in Viet Nam…more than once. It was his duty. He loved his family. Loving them was beyond his duty, it was his joy. He was faithful to God and His Beloved Son. There was no question. He believed in prayer. He loved children. He loved people. And peppermints.
He always wanted to be a teacher, so, when he had the chance, he signed up to be a substitute and had a huge influence on hundreds of children each day for nearly a decade. He mostly stayed within the Pharr Elementary building in Snellville, GA because they kept him busy. On the rare day that he wasn’t called in, he would sit with the kids, eat lunch with a lonesome friend, or read with any number of students. Even the older crowd who didn’t “need” help still cherished reading with Mr. Weeks.
He handed out peppermints and soothed little souls with a smile or a hug. He was always joyful. He was heard to say, “This beats all, I served in Viet Nam, but you teachers, you are the ones in the trenches every day.”
He prayed. He kept the names of those who needed a prayer written down and he would make a daily trek to his church and pray for them in silent contemplation.
He also made a daily trip to Kroger in his Cruiser to see what the manager had on “special” that day. That, and to get a lottery ticket. He won little victories here and there. Kept him in peppermint money.
He served his church through the children’s ministry and more. He would do anything asked of him if he was able. He loved children. And they loved him. They would do anything for him and as he grew weaker with cancer, they did do things for him. Mostly, they prayed, which was the best gift he could ever receive. His bedside was filled with loving notes and prayers from his young friends.
He loved his family and was proud of each child and grandchild. He loved his wife whom he had just lost a few months prior. He missed her. He fought cancer with the tenacity of a soldier until his wife was seen properly to her eternal rest so that he could join her when he was finished with the battle.
He walked the walk each day. His kind words, smiles and genuine love for his community was the stuff of everyday heroes. It was as much a part of who he was as the Viet Nam Veteran hat that he wore each day. He never forgot those boys either.
Children grew as excited as Christmas each year as they prepared for the annual Veteran’s Day Program at Pharr ES. They sang for parents, grandparents and other family members who had served, but they sang loudest and proudest for Mr. Weeks.
Our Grayson, GA community is saddened and mourns their fallen hero, Richard Weeks. Cancer took him away in body, but his spirit lives on in each one of the people whose lives he touched so completely. He remained a teacher to the very last. His lessons came in the tender mercies that he so subtly gifted along with those puffy, red-and-white-striped peppermints… Perhaps he was just covering all bases…providing a refreshing boost for both spirit and body. That would be his way.